Prostate Cancer: A PSMA Scan Predicts Recurrence

“We found that the information we could get from PSMA scanning in patients with newly-diagnosed prostate cancer before surgery was at least as reliable and useful as other information from biopsy, PSA levels, or clinical exam for predicting how patients would do after surgery or other treatment,” says Farshad Moradi, a radiologist at Stanford who co-authored the study.

In December, scientists at Stanford University reported promising findings with a new technology that lights up prostate tumors on specialized imaging scans. The approach relies on a minimally-radioactive tracer that travels the body hunting for cancer cells.

Called 68Ga-PSMA-11, and delivered intravenously, the tracer binds exclusively with a protein called prostate- specific membrane antigen (PSMA). Prostate cancer cells contain far more of this protein on their surfaces than normal prostate cells do. Tumors flagged by 68Ga-PSMA-11 show up on an imaging scan like lit matches in a dark room. Doctors are already using PSMA scans to diagnose early metastatic cancer, and the tracer can also be used to ferry drugs directly into malignant tumors.

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